Humpback whales live in all the world's major oceans. They migrate great distances, scooping up plankton and krill with mouths full of baleen. Known for their grace, the magnificent creatures were also coveted by whalers. From the 19th century through the mid-20th century, their numbers were decimated by commercial whaling. At one point there were as few as 700 of the creatures swimming in the North Atlantic. Bans on whaling in the 1980s and a general push for conservation have allowed humpback populations to recover in recent decades. And at last, the humpback whale has been taken off the endangered species list in Australia—a milestone for the species.
The humpback whale, or Megaptera novaeangliae, is a truly magnificent creature. Weighing in at about 40 tons, the adults enjoy propelling themselves out of the water in dramatic breaches. Underwater, they sing to each other—especially during the mating season. These gentle giants even travel over 3,500 miles to find their partners.
The Australian Threatened Species Scientific Committee researched the population to make sure the numbers in the region had rebounded after years on the nation's threatened species list. Based on the positive findings, Environment Minister Sussan Ley delisted the species. She noted that most of her decisions are placing species on the list and that removing one was refreshing. “…it's really encouraging to see a strong conservation story lead to a species actually coming off that list,” she said.
Although the species has been removed from the endangered list in Australia, they are still protected by law in Australian waters under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. But despite this protection, some conservationists fear delisting the species is overly ambitious. The humpback whale is still facing dangers both manmade and environmental; the precious species is still considered endangered or depleted in some regions. Saving the whales is still an important goal, but any good news is great news.
Humpback whales have made a comeback, removing themselves from the endangered species list in Australia.
h/t: [ABC Net Australia]